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Spengler's "Decline of the West"

 
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:29 am
@Fido,
Fido;111388 wrote:
..But only look at our artists, the pan pipers, and you can see there is life enough in this place...

I agree. This is where the life is, to a large degree. But aren't these the dreamers?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 06:26 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;111448 wrote:
I agree. This is where the life is, to a large degree. But aren't these the dreamers?

It is when a people ceases to dream that their culture dies... The Dream of liberty and justice for all which made this nation possible is all but officially dead, but it is still alive in the people, and if the people can adjust their reality to make their dream less futile then we will yet live...

Consider; When Spengler was writing, and before him Nietzsche...Hundreds of years of Feudalism, or absolutism, of democracy denied, and capital encouraged at the expense of humanity, or mindless wars flooding and receding over the land destroying life and hopes is enough to make any realistic person hold their head as conclude we are done...Government in the hands of the few rob their societies of their best minds and most agile wits...To make the rich and the powerful seem fast and strong the rest of the population is maimed and lamed... In this fashion societies deny themselves greatness so a few can have lives fat with pleasures... It is not our entire cultures which are doomed, unless we cannot find a way to change our forms, to look at them rationally and judge them failures and toss them on the trash...As Bad as it is for us, compared to the East, or middle East, or Africa; the West seems a hot bed of inventiveness and change...Only dire misery and impossible conditions caused the Chinese and Russians to revolt... The West by comparison has always been on the verge of revolt...So what if real change has be frustrated to date??? As long as we can change or form we will not go extinct like the dinosaurs...As I see it; if we did not suffer our secret politce and intelligence services which have co-opted, or confused any attempt at reform or organization; then we would have revolted long ago...We could slip into a dark age in short order...We might find we are playing a game of king of the crap pile...Ideologues and nut cases might nuke America or Europe out of the fear of communism...It is not that there is no real threat to humanity from the powers that be in government, economy, religion, and miliitary... But; we have no choice, really...If we cannot change our form we are done, declined, and cooked... Our stability through law, and even geography has worked against our ability to change, and change is life...
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:22 am
@Fido,
Fido;111480 wrote:
..If we cannot change our form we are done, declined, and cooked... Our stability through law, and even geography has worked against our ability to change, and change is life...



Good points. Who lives shall see. It's enough to make a person second-guess parenthood. Still, I look around and the discontent I see is mostly personal, and citizen resenting citizen, rather than citizens resenting the structure. Then I see that those who are political have their pet issues. The ones I have known that want the complete overhaul are often the most alienated and cynical. Can the train be stopped? I would certainly prefer a living culture. No wonder they douse the population with drugs. We are stuck somewhere between Brave New World and 1984. Shaw thought that man's short lifespan increased his political selfishness. So he dreamed up this notion of man evolving a 300 year life span. (Back to Methuselah.) The play starts in the Garden of Eden and ends in a sci-fi future. Do you like Shaw? He seems to be out of fashion, but was apparently big news back then. Very political. Wanted slow peaceful revolution. Who lives shall see.
0 Replies
 
Aurochs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Jan, 2010 07:13 pm
@Aurochs,
Finally finished this book (the abridgement) a couple weeks ago.
I cannot recommend this book enough, especially for those with an interest in history.

Understandably some of it may indeed be hard to swallow for us moderns. I find myself heavily (though cautiously) drawn to his ideas however.

But this book is filled with so many different ideas and themes, apart from the meta-historical/meta-physical ones; many of which seem to antedate a lot of modern historical scholarship on certain ideas; for instance attitudes to race in past cultures. For a student of history this book appears in many points to have been about 70 years ahead of its time, when compared to other history books of the early twentieth century - which were very much permeated by the worldview(s) of that era.
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Fido
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Jan, 2010 06:02 am
@Aurochs,
What were his views of race in History???

Do you feel the West is in Decline; and in decline as compared to what???
Aurochs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Jan, 2010 08:22 am
@Fido,
Fido;119607 wrote:
What were his views of race in History???

Do you feel the West is in Decline; and in decline as compared to what???


Well, his conception of 'race' was anti-biological. A race is 'formed' at a certain time and certain place, regardless of biology / ethnicity.

To take an example from history, the Anglo-Saxon peoples displayed their 'race' or 'ethnicity' via burial styles, dress, names, other traditions, etc. There has been a great deal of debate about whether the immigrant Anglo-Saxons completely wiped out the native Britons (the common view in late 19th/early 20th century historiography), or whether Britons did survive in some numbers, but the manner in which they displayed their 'race' is harder to see archaeologically (e.g. in burial rites). Only recently in the history of this subject (from the 90s onwards) have I started to see one or two individuals offering up a different concept of how 'race' was perceived by the early medieval societies, a concept completely other to the distinctly biological one we think of today. The Anglo-Saxon 'race' was 'formed' in England (not in the Continent) during and after the years of settlement (mid C5th-C7th); and the boundaries of 'race' being fluid, potentially allowed Britons to 'become' Anglo-Saxon, which may be an explanation for the British 'archaeological invisibility' other than the idea that a whole people was completely wiped out or forced to flee.

People retroject their own values onto the past. This new understanding seems a massive leap forward for me, and yet such a concept was espoused by Spengler about 90 years ago now. One particular example Spengler himself used was that of the forming of the American 'race'.

But this is just one the many things I found in this work that seems to antedate many modern ideas within the field of history.

The title of the work "The Decline of the West" is, in my opinion, rather a misleading title, and Western decline doesn't really feature in the book until the last few chapters.
I do not "feel" that the West is in decline. But I certainly know it to be in decline as much as I am, and as much as the winter is in decline in order for summer to arrive. Basically, nothing lasts forever. There are a great number of accute observations in this book about current social mores and how they differ to previous ones. I think it is a fallacy that we are ever progressing upward. To me it is not about rise and fall, but merely ebb and flow, or like the hands on a clock. They only rise or fall depending on one's viewpoint, but they are certainly changing for those with an eye patient enough to observe the changes and the signs that herald the changes.
0 Replies
 
triarius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Jul, 2011 04:07 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Bloody hell! The greatest book ever written - and you want to read a CASTRATED version? For that's what it is. Ad usum Delphini. Don't be joking!

Read the full version! It's harder to understand, that's true, but well worth it.

Good reading and all the best from 'Poland's chief spenglerist' ;-)
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